God and Country and Zakoskis are “Four for Four” (2016)

This spring (2016), Shepherd of the Valley celebrated 15 years of sponsoring God and Country, offering the nationally-recognized “Programs of Religious Activities with Youth” (P.R.A.Y.) to area Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts of any denomination. Each spring, scouts may complete one of four age-level programs and receive a religious award with the same name: God and Me (Grades 1-3), God and Family (Grades 4-5) God and Church (Grades 6-8), and God and Life (Grades 9-12).

This May, 32 total awards were presented to scouts at SOTV. Most notably, the prestigious Four Star Award was presented to Karisa Zakoski (second from left in photo). Karisa joined her three brothers, Jeffrey (2009), Jonathan (2011), and Jacob (2014), as scouts who completed all four P.R.A.Y. age-level programs. In 15 years at SOTV only 16 out of 455 scouts have earned Four Star Awards. Nationwide, only 200-300 scouts receive the Four Star Award any given year. Four children from one family receiving the Four Star Award is very rare.

Kevin and Tami Zakoski are both very proud of their four children for their perseverance. Tami added, “This is a wonderful program that showed our children that their faith is interwoven throughout their entire lives.”

The Zakoski siblings each echoed those thoughts. Jeffrey discovered how throughout God and Country he “learned much about myself as a person,” while Jonathan learned his faith “connects with every other aspect of my life.” Jacob reflected that it was a worthwhile endeavor for learning about faith and Karisa added she learned “that God is there guiding me through Scouting.”

Bob Elliott, SOTV’s God and Country coordinator, recalled that in the 15 years of the program, “there has always been a Zakoski working on an award or waiting until they were old enough to work on their next one.” Bob praised the unwavering faith that parents Tami and Kevin instilled in their children, and the dedication of the Zakoski children. Bob also thanked the church for its enduring support for the program, and praised the dedication of the ten counselors who have served the God and Country program, five of whom have received special awards for their long tenures.

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